Galway road runners on tour
The series went from strength to strength in 2008 with another race added to the calendar - Claregalway got into the act for the first time this year. It is also no longer strictly a May Series as the first and last races spilt out into both adjacent months.
We had on-line entries for the first time and they were a huge success, with the series selling out over two weeks before the first race. Three hundred and fifty! There were many disappointed runners, who had run in previous years but who didn't hear about the new application process in time etc. These extra numbers brought a whole different set of problems to the organisers of each of the 6 races, ones which all took to heart. Each rose to the various challenges with gusto and with ultimate success.
Two hundred and eighty one officially finished in Newcastle in late April - 9 days after the National 10KM had taken place in another part of Athenry parish. At least another 10 guests(!) also ran but only those officially entered would be eligible for series t-shirts, which demanded that five or six race finishes be recorded. Again, as is now almost (touch wood!) customary for the Tuesday evenings of the series, we had dry weather for the race, not that the outlook was good in the early evening - lots of very dark clouds rolling around East Galway. The running gods smiled on our meagre efforts again!
Tuam was next and the course was different to previous years and much more difficult, with a long uphill stretch to almost the three KM mark. The start and finish were out near the old Sugar factory. A huge success.
Craughwell was bathed in late evening sunshine and over 300 [a series record] finished. Super organisation. (It was also a personal triumph for me as I beat Dave Dunne for the only time in 2008!)
Claregalway was very overcast but stayed dry as over 260 finished. The course was not easy but many reported very good times. The race started and finished at the Claregalway Community Centre. Welcome aboard, Clare River Harriers.
Loughrea was on the same excellent loop, though a bit longer than last year, for those who notice those things. The hill between three and four KM hasn't gotten any easier, or flatter! Again,we got out of town dry. Not to forget the professionally-made video that the Loughrea boys did as part of their 40th anniversary celebrations!
The GCH leg was in Dangan, with the same rules and course as previous years. We held onto our "dry" streak too. Over 250 finished and therefore 200-plus safely secured their lime green series T-shirts with 109 recorded as finishing all 6 races. The series T-shirt was, as always, experted designed by Proactive's Johnny O'Connor. A visual genius.
Many of these 210 and hangers-on retired to Kelehan's main function room for a few drinks and an informal prize-giving afterwards. After all expenses were covered, the series organisers were able to donate Ä4133 to the local AAI County Board to help promote and finance juvenile athletics in Galway.
Three ever-presents remain in the series, Tony O'Callaghan (Craughwell AC), Jim Maher (HP Running Club) and our own Gary Doherty. Fifteen races, fifteen finishes! Four in 2006, five in 2007, six in 2008.